Annual Meetings and Special Meetings: FAQs for Homeowners Associations and Shareholders

Main in suit talking in front of an audience - FirstService ResidentialIf you’ve read our article on Board Meeting Basics, you already understand why your condo or homeowners association needs to hold regular board meetings. However, these aren’t the only meetings your community has. Every association must also hold annual meetings (sometimes known as annual general meetings, or AGMs) and, when necessary, special meetings to address issues that can’t wait for the next board meeting.
 
As with other types of meetings, condo and HOA annual and special meetings must comply with your association’s bylaws. The bylaws provide board members with the criteria they must follow, such as the appropriate advance notice to provide, the required quorum and proper voting procedures. 

If you’re looking for comprehensive information about the different types of association meetings, ask a seasoned board member or your property manager for information and guidance.  Meanwhile, we’ve put together answers to some of the most common questions about annual and special meetings.
 

Annual Meetings

What is an annual meeting? 

All HOAs and condo associations are required to hold annual meetings that are open to all association members. Annual meetings are often your association’ most important meeting of the year because it’s where homeowners are informed and updated about important board business and key association issues, such as finances, the status of current projects and plans for upcoming capital improvements. The annual meeting is also when homeowners have the opportunity to participate in the community’s decision making.
 

What is typically on a condo or HOA annual meeting agenda? 

Although every association is different, some of the activities that both condo associations and HOAs may have on their annual meeting agenda include:
  • Presentations by the board, its committees and professionals involved in community business like accountants, contractors and vendors
  • Announcements about staff or management changes
  • Proposals requiring residents’ approval
  • Approval of the annual budget
Most condo associations and HOAs also carve out space on their annual meeting’s agenda for homeowners to participate in open discussions, raise concerns and ask questions about important association business – hopefully, amicably and productively. Having these open forums on the agenda provides a structured way for community members to be heard. Open forums must be well controlled to prevent them from taking the annual meeting off track. Seasoned board members or the community’s property manager often apply effective techniques to keep discussions focused and on topic.
 
Board member elections are another important item on a condo or HOA annual meeting agenda as they are usually conducted to coincide with annual meetings. Board members are elected by a majority vote of homeowners. Depending on your state or provincial laws and your community’s governing documents, you may have the option of voting in person at the annual meeting, electronically, by mail or by naming a proxy (an individual named by the homeowner to cast a vote on their behalf). With several options, there’s no reason not to make your vote count!

Who can attend an annual meeting? 

Annual meetings are open, meaning all owners (and shareholders) can (and should!) attend and vote. In addition, homeowners’ legal guardians, trustees, personal representatives and those with power of attorney may attend and vote on behalf of the homeowner. Beyond that, each community’s attendance rules and requirements are defined by its governing documents and state or provincial statutes. This means that attendance by non-owners, such as tenants, potential homebuyers and proxies may vary.

What about vendors, attorneys and other professionals?  Although they may be invited to attend specific meetings to provide information or make presentations to homeowners, your association can restrict their attendance otherwise.

Do board member elections require a quorum?

When it comes to electing board members or voting to approve policy changes, bylaws or state/provincial statutes usually require associations to obtain a quorum – a specified number or percentage of homeowners or their proxies present to vote.

Do annual meetings have notification requirements? 

Associations must provide homeowners with advance notice of their annual meeting, including the date, time and location of the meeting, as well as the agenda. How far in advance and the method by which notices must be delivered to homeowners varies and will be specified in your association’s governing documents and in your state or provincial statutes. Generally, associations are required to deliver notices by postal mail or personally, many communities are also permitted to deliver them electronically. Most communities will also post notices in common areas.

Special Meetings

What is a special meeting? 

Special meetings are unscheduled meetings that may be called to handle a specific issue or problem that cannot wait for a regularly scheduled meeting or that is important enough to require an entire meeting by itself. Special meetings must be focused on a single issue. Any other issues that arise are not open to discussion at the special meeting.
 

Do condo and HOA special meetings require advance notice?

As with other meetings, the board is required to send everyone in the condo association or HOA a special meeting notice. Again, the specifics of that notice (timeframe, content and method of delivery) are determined by state/provincial statutes and your association’s bylaws, but it should always include the date, time and location of the meeting and the issue to be discussed.
 

Who can request a special meeting? 

In most cases, a board member will call for a special meeting, but most associations also allow homeowners to petition for them. Your bylaws will spell out requirements, such as the number or percentage of homeowner signatures you must obtain and the process for presenting the petition to the board. If you meet all requirements, the board must hold a meeting.

Annual meeting and special meetings are both necessary and integral parts of governing an association — and valuable ways to ensure smooth operations, enhance the lifestyle of residents and position your community for success. And, of course, they provide great opportunities for open communication between residents and board members. Are you a board member? Learn how you can communicate better with residents. Download our guide, How to Improve Communication in Your Community, today!
 

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